The last few years as a Bolton Wanderers fan have been far from fun. But that could all be about to change if Laurence Bassini gets his way, as the prospective new owner targets getting the club back to the big time and tells fans “They can feel safe with me.”
The former Watford chairman is the man behind the bid to buy Bolton from Ken Anderson, which saw our latest date with the High Court adjourned until May earlier this week. And, in an interview with TalkSport this morning, Bassini revealed he has plans to get Bolton back to the Premier League in the next two to three years.
Speaking to Jim White, Bassini said: “Bolton needs a good infrastructure, with the right people brought in. I don’t know if we’ll survive this season, but if we do go down we’ll put a large sum of money into bringing them straight back up and then getting them back into the Premier League. If we go down its a three-year plan, stay up its a two-year plan. The money is there, there’s just a few things I need to check out with Ken Anderson and then I can go forward. But we are very close to a deal in this next week.
“If it wasn’t my love and affection for football and this club I wouldn’t be doing this now. I looked at this club two years ago, as did many people. They’re just a great club and they have the potential to get back to the top. I went to watch them play at QPR, it was a great result and I think they have great potential.”
Bold plans these may be, but there’s plenty of doubt around Bassini’s takeover bid, especially given what we’ve gone through with Anderson. Bassini was banned from being a football club director for three years back in 2013 after the situation that surrounded him selling Watford to its current owners, and he freely admits being made bankrupt twice.
As he says: “It’s taken six years-plus to investigate the things that went on, hence police investigations are going on and with the football league, with the authorities going to see different people.
“I have been bankrupted twice. The first time someone went to prison as they ripped me off. Now there’s circumstances that are being investigated as I had too many people helping themselves at Watford, as I’d been setup very beautifully. Fraud always comes out, so those people need to be aware they’re coming to get you.”
But he also promises that he’s on the way back and he does have money to spend. I am a multi millionaire,” Bassini told TalkSport. “My comeback was from property and I have some people that I’m involved with in property. I have my own company developing and buying property, the other is buy to lets, and a third company that’ll be for building products that’ll open later this year.
“I’m not coming in with other people who have money. Only myself. Don’t want to be involved with anyone else. I want to make the decisions, but will come in with the right footballing people.”
So is this reason for optimism for Bolton fans? Well, when asked if he’ll be yet another rogue chairman, Bassini responded: “I was never a rogue chairman, or owner. At Watford, I used to go down to the training ground every day to see what was going on and see the players - I wasn’t so interested in the monetary things. I had a phone call from John Eustace the other day and he said I was the best, most fun owner they had.
“I’m not trying to blow my own trumpet, football is a serious business. But people in football should say it as it is rather than trying to run people down. It’s very egotistical.l I don’t do interviews but I think Bolton fans deserve more and need to feel safe. They can feel safe with me.”
Simon Jordan questions Bassini
Among those questioning Bassini’s bid are outspoken former Crystal Palace owner Simon Jordan. On whom Bassini said: “Simon Jordan says a lot of things. He had his time in football and I’m not going to run him down. If he wants to point fingers at people and say things that aren’t nice then that’s fine. He wanted me to put millions into Portsmouth and was driving me mad about it, but I didn’t want to, then he turned and got funny at me.”
But Jordan was on TalkSport this morning to offer an immediate response, and he did not hold back: “If I was in Bolton’s shoes I’d take the administration and 12 points hit. That’s my view. But if he’s going to put his money where his mouth is you're going to see that over time. The first time I saw him he was a buffoon, this time who knows.”
And on Bassini’s claims re their previous dealings, Jordan added: “I got a call in 2012 because he read my book, wanted to get me back involved in football and about Portsmouth. I had no interest in being involved. It’s a carnival of horrors for Bolton fans going from Anderson to Bassini. He’s being wheeled out as its desperate stakes.
“You’ve got to go some to be disqualified from football for three years. There’s nothing wrong with being bankrupt, so if he’s come back then fair play to him - that’s one thing. But I don’t think hes going there for the benefit of Bolton, but for the benefit of Laurence. The one thing he didn’t do was put any money in, and if you really want to know about him then ask Trevor Birch, the administrator at Portsmouth.”
Room for optimism
Given the recent experiences with Anderson, Bolton fans are right to be wary and it’s not as if there’s four or five people creating a bidding war. But Bassini is saying the right things and if he really means what he says about having a passion for the club and having money to spend to get us out of the mess we’re currently in, then what more can we ask for?
As Bob Mills stated on TalkSport: “If not him, then who?” The alternative to Bassini doesn’t really bear thinking about - it’s basically running the risk of administration and potentially liquidation. If he really wants to be involved and follows through on his promises of money to spend, then the future could - finally - be bright for Bolton Wanderers.